New number for National Suicide Prevention Lifeline impacts two Virginia area codes
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline will be getting its own three-digit dialing number – 988 – in 2022. Before that can happen, dialing changes will be necessary in two Virginia area codes – 804 and 276.
In the Richmond region (area code 804) and the Southwest Virginia region (area code 276), 988 is an existing working prefix (i.e., the first three numbers dialed after the area code) for local exchanges in those area codes that currently permit seven-digit dialing to make a local call.
To prepare for 988 becoming a national number for the NSPL, 10-digit dialing (area code + phone number) will be required to make local calls in those two geographic regions.
Virginia is not alone. There are 81 area codes in 36 other states that must also prepare for 10-digit dialing to accommodate the 988 national number roll-out.
The State Corporation Commission, the FCC and the telephone industry will be reminding consumers of this change in the 804 and 276 area codes over the next 18 months.
The timeline for implementation is as follows:
- April 24, 2021 – permissive 10-digit dialing begins for all local calls
- October 24, 2021 – mandatory 10-digit dialing required for all local calls
- July 16, 2022 – 988 for NSPL is active
Very little else will change for telephone users inside the 804 and 276 area codes. The NSPL is – and will always be – available at 1-800-273-8255. Other three-digit services – like 211, 711, 811, and 911 – are not affected.
Telephone numbers, coverage areas, local call boundaries, and area code numbers remain the same.
What to do if you need assistance
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration estimates that roughly 4 percent of Virginia adults live with serious mental health conditions.
While the holiday season brings joy and relaxation to some, it also may mean stress and sadness for others.
During the holiday season and beyond, it is particularly crucial to be aware of available mental health resources such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline hotline (800-273-8255) and suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
As always, 911 is available for emergency situations.
For more information about phone service changes regarding the NSPL’s upcoming 988 number, visit the FCC website at fcc.gov/suicide-prevention-hotline.